Skip to main content

Scary nicknames

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

October 31 is the scariest day of the year, so what better day to celebrate the NHL’s most frightening player nicknames? Here’s our Halloween Top 10:

10. ‘Beast,’ Brad McCrimmon

One of the most beloved NHL players and coaches in league history, McCrimmon landed the moniker ‘Beast’ thanks to his ferocious playing style and abilities as a blueliner. He died in the tragic 2011 Lokomotiv team plane crash. He was respected by all who knew and played against him.

9. ‘The Monster,’ Jonas Gustavsson

Away from the ice, the Swedish goaltender is anything but imposing. In fact, he’s one of the most humble, good-natured people you’ll meet in the game. But between the pipes, Gustavsson earned himself the nickname ‘Monster’ with incredible netminding skill. Probably broadcaster Pierre McGuire’s favorite player for the nickname alone.

8. ‘King Kong,’ Jerry Korab

Korab is among most famous and feared players in Buffalo Sabres history in part because of his physical edge, but also because his nickname sounded so tough. Indeed, with a handle like ‘King Kong Korab,’ he could’ve been a pro wrestler just as easily.

7. ‘Cujo,’ Curtis Joseph

Another NHLer whose frightening nickname belied his kind nature, Joseph painted his goalie mask to resemble a frothing dog whose name was made famous in the popular Stephen King novel.

6. ‘Killer,’ Doug Gilmour

In the dressing room and away from the arena, Gilmour was and still is considered a gregarious, good-humored type of guy. But when he strapped on skates, the Stanley Cup winner and former Leafs captain came by his nickname honestly. He played like he would do just about anything – OK, forget the “just about” part – to win.

5. ‘Old Blood And Guts,’ Eddie Shore

There may be no pound-for-pound tougher NHL character than Shore was during his career. He fought with opponents and teammates and was once challenged to a boxing match by a baseball player. When they called him ‘Blood And Guts,’ they weren’t kidding.

4. ‘The Boogeyman,’ Derek Boogaard

The 6-foot-7 Boogaard, who died tragically in 2011 of a drug overdose, was like many NHL enforcers a teddy bear of a man when he wasn’t playing the tough guy role. But the last thing anybody in their right mind wanted as an NHL player was a date for fisticuffs with ‘The Boogeyman.’

3. ‘Nose Face Killah,’ Brad Marchand

Marchand’s nickname is at once a tribute to his famous proboscis and the Wu Tang Clan rapper Ghost Face Killah. The Bruins expert agitator embraced the handle, wearing a T-shirt with the words ‘Nose Face Killah’ during Boston’s Stanley Cup championship run in 2011.

2. ‘The Grim Reaper,’ Stu Grimson

Now a lawyer, Grimson used to be among the NHL’s scariest enforcers during his 13 NHL seasons – and you can see why: in 729 regular season games, he was assessed 2,113 penalty minutes.

1.’The Embalmer,’ Alf Pike

A New York Rangers forward from 1939-47, Pike worked in the off-season as a licensed mortician. Can you imagine how spooky that was for an NHLer? Working in the off-season, I mean.

The Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His Power Rankings appear Mondays, his column appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature Fridays.



World Junior Roundup: Finland, Sweden, Canada, Czechia Advance to Semifinal

The four teams that will play for medals at the World Junior Championship have been decided, with tournament heavyweights USA bowing out after a loss to Czechia to close out quarterfinal action on Wednesday.

Emil Andrae

World Juniors: Emil Andrae is Taking Over

The Philadelphia Flyers prospect and captain of the Tre Kronor is bringing offense - and a lot more - to the back end at the tournament.

P.K. Subban

NHL Free Agency: Top 3 Landing Spots for PK Subban

Training camps are fast approaching, and PK Subban remains unsigned. Here's a look at a few of the top destinations for the defenseman.